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OC Register: Dodgers met with Shohei Ohtani, Dave Roberts confirms

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Dodgers manager Dave Roberts abandoned the evasive maneuvers teams have adopted when asked about Shohei Ohtani’s free agency.

The Dodgers met with Ohtani and made their pitch “a couple days” ago at Dodger Stadium, Roberts said Tuesday afternoon at the Winter Meetings. That meeting lasted two or three hours, he said.

Roberts made no bones about the Dodgers’ No. 1 offseason target.

“Clearly, Shohei is our top priority,” he said.

Ohtani’s free agency has been among the most secretive in MLB history to the point that his agent, Nez Balelo, reportedly let it be known that any leaks about meetings would be held against that team. Roberts said he respected Ohtani’s desire for privacy but he was not going to pretend the meeting didn’t happen.

“I don’t feel like lying is something I do,” Roberts said. “I was asked a question … It’s going to come out at some point.”

There have also been reports that Ohtani has made in-person visits to the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park and the Toronto Blue Jays’ training complex in Dunedin, Fla. One Blue Jays fan on X (formerly called Twitter) went so far as to use flight tracking information to find a private plane that flew from Anaheim to Clearwater, Fla. (the closest airport to Dunedin) on Sunday night and then returned Monday.

The Dodgers’ presentation to Ohtani was simpler this time than in 2017, Roberts said, and no current players were involved. When Ohtani first came to play in MLB, Dodgers players Clayton Kershaw, Justin Turner and Chris Taylor were part of the recruiting pitch to Ohtani.

More to come on this story.

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